Page images
PDF
EPUB

WANTED_A HERO.

(DON JUAN, Canto i. Stanzas 1-5.)

I WANT a hero : an uncommon want,

When every year and month sends forth a new one, Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,

The age discovers he is not the true one ;
Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,

I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan-
We all have seen him, in the pantomime,
Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time,

Vernon, the butcher Cumberland, Wolfe, Hawke,

Prince Ferdinand, Granby, Burgoyne, Keppel, Howe, Evil and good, have had their tithe of talk,

And filld their sign-posts then, like Wellesley now ; Each in their turn like Banquo's monarchs stalk,

Followers of fame, “nine farrow" of that sow : France, too, had Buonaparté and Dumourier Recorded in the Moniteur and Courier.

Barnave, Brissot, Condorcet, Mirabeau,

Petion, Clootz, Danton, Marat, La Fayette, Were French, and famous people, as we know ;

And there were others, scarce forgotten yet,
Joubert, Hoche, Marceau, Lannes, Desaix, Moreau,

With many of the military set,
Exceedingly remarkable at times,
But not at all adapted to my rhymes.

Nelson was once Britannia's god of war,

And still should be so, but the tide is turn'd; There's no more to be said of Trafalgar,

'Tis with our hero quietly inurn'd; Because the army's grown more popular,

At which the naval people are concern'd; Besides, the prince is all for the land-service, Forgetting Duncan, Nelson, Howe, and Jervis.

Brave men were living before Agamemnon

And since, exceeding valorous and sage, A good deal like him too, though quite the same none;

But then they shone not on the poet's page,
And so have been forgotten :-I condemn none,

But can't find any in the present age
Fit for my poem (that is, for my new one) ;
So, as I said, I'll take my friend Don Juan,

LONDON.

(DON JUAN, Canto x. Stanzas 81, 82.)

THE sun went down, the smoke rose up as from

A half-unquench'd volcano, o'er a space Which well beseem'd the “ Devil's drawing-room,”

As some have qualified that wondrous place : But Juan felt, though not approaching home,

As one who, though he were not of the race, Revered the soil, of those true sons the mother, Who butcher'd half the earth, and bullied t'other.

A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,

Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping

In sight, then lost amidst the forestry
Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping

On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy ;
A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown
On a fool's head and there is London Town !

THINGS SWEET.

(Don Juan, Canto i. Stanzas 123-127).

'Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark

Bay deep-mouth'd welcome as we draw near home ; 'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark

Our coming, and look brighter when we come ; 'Tis sweet to be awaken’d by the lark,

Or lull'd by falling waters ; sweet the hum Of bees, the voice of girls, the song of birds, The lisp of children, and their earliest words.

Sweet is the vintage, when the showering grapes

In Bacchanal profusion reel to earth
Purple and gushing : sweet are our escapes

From civic revelry to rural mirth ;
Sweet to the miser are his glittering heaps,

Sweet to the father is his first-born's birth,
Sweet is revenge—especially to women,
Pillage to soldiers, prize-money to seamen.

Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet

The unexpected death of some old lady Or gentleman of seventy years complete,

Who've made “us youth” wait too—too long already For an estate, or cash, or country-seat,

Still breaking, but with stamina so steady,
That all the Israelites are fit to mob its
Next owner for their double-damn'd post-obits.

'Tis sweet to win, no matter how, one's laurels,

By blood or ink ; 'tis sweet to put an end
To strife ; 'tis sometimes sweet to have our quarrels,

Particularly with a tiresome friend :
Sweet is old wine in bottles, ale in barrels ;

Dear is the helpless creature we defend Against the world ; and dear the schoolboy spot We ne'er forget, though there we are forgot.

But sweeter still, than this, than these, than all,

Is first and passionate love—it stands alone, Like Adam's recollection of his fall;

The tree of knowledge has been pluck'd-all's knownAnd life yields nothing further to recall

Worthy of this ambrosial sin, so shown,
No doubt in fable, as the unforgiven
Fire which Prometheus filch'd for us from heaven.

LAMBRO'S RETURN.

(DON JUAN, Canto iii. Stanzas 27, 29-41.)

He saw his white walls shining in the sun,

His garden trees all shadowy and green ; He heard his rivulet's light bubbling run,

The distant dog-bark ; and perceived between The umbrage of the wood so cool and dun

The moving figures, and the sparkling sheen Of arms (in the East all arm)—and various dyes Of colour'd garbs, as bright as butterflies.

And still more nearly to the place advancing,

Descending rather quickly the declivity, Through the waved branches, o'er the greensward

glancing, 'Midst other indications of festivity, Seeing a troop of his domestics dancing

Like dervises, who turn as on a pivot, he Perceived it was the Pyrrhic dance so martial, To which the Levantines are very partial.

And further on a group of Grecian girls,

The first and tallest her white kerchief waving, Were strung together like a row of pearls,

Link'd hand in hand, and dancing ; each too having Down her white neck long floating auburn curls—

(The least of which would set ten poets raving) ; Their leader sang—and bounded to her song, With choral step and voice, the virgin throng.

« PreviousContinue »